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Which Crop Should I Plant in 2020

Crop Compare, Comparing Yield,Budget

Submitted by Craig Askim, Extension Agent/Agriculture and Natural Resources 

2019 was a challenging cropping season with unfavorable weather conditions, fields left unharvested and low market prices. When you factor in all these things the question of “What should I try to plant next year?” is not an easy one to answer. Below you will find information on an NDSU crop compare program that hopefully can answer some of these questions before you start planting the 2020 crop. Comparing yields, market prices and input costs to analyze potential returns can be easier with “Crop Compare” a spreadsheet developed by NDSU Extension Farm Management Specialists. 

Using Crop Compare allows you to select one crop, enter estimated market price, yield, and input costs for that crop and compare those crops for expected profit or losses. The computer software program can be downloaded from the NDSU Extension Farm Management website at: (https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/farmmanagement/tools. The spreadsheet is free of charge.

The system currently has the 2019 crop budget information preloaded. However, to make the information the most accurate producers should enter their own costs and yield information.

The spreadsheet allows you to easily compare crop returns over variable costs with changes in yields, market prices or input costs. For instance, if you select spring wheat as the reference crop in the spreadsheet the tool will calculate the market price you need to get from other crops listed in the spreadsheet to breakeven in return when comparing them all to net return for spring wheat on a per acre basis.

The computer spreadsheet allows the producer to change the variables such as the market price, yield, or input costs of spring wheat. The computer will then recalculate what the market price would need to be for each of the comparison crops. You can also change the expected yields and costs of any of the comparison crops and the computer will recalculate the relative price you would need to receive for that crop to make it even with the reference crop. 

Example: You select spring wheat as the reference crop with a futures price of $6.10 and a local basis of -55 cents for an expected cash price of $5.55 per bushel, a yield of 40 bushels/acre and variable costs of $140 /acre. The tool calculates that you would need 29 bushels of soybeans at $7.00 to equal the same return over variable costs. Alternatively, you could change the 29-bushel average soybean yield to 35 and it would show that you would only need to get $6.28 /bushel for your beans to equal 40-bushel spring wheat at $5.55.

Using this program, producers can gain valuable information in making crop planting decisions and can use crop insurance guarantees to reduce financial risk, which should provide sound information to financial lenders when working on 2020 budgets.

The spreadsheet considers variable costs only. It assumes that land rent of machinery costs other than repairs will not change from crop to crop. It also cannot consider the value of rotations to avoid or reduce crop diseases or use different herbicides to prevent weed resistance.

If you have questions or would like further assistance with the program, contact the Extension office at 701.873.5195.

Source: Dan Folske – NDSU Extension - Burke County – ANR Agent

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